Mention fuel cells to people in the automotive industry and you get an illuminating range of reactions.
True believers rhapsodize over a future free of imported oil and nasty tailpipe emissions. Cynics scoff that "hydrogen economy" talk is just a tactic to forestall higher fuel economy standards.
Other folks' eyes glaze over at the mere mention of compressed hydrogen storage or polymer electrolyte membranes.
After a recent dive into the world of fuel cell development, I've come away with a different take.
Fuel cells may or may not represent the automotive powertrain of the future, but the pressure to move away from the petroleum-fueled internal combustion engine will only increase.
If the industry's global growth projections prove true, the world will add the equivalent of today's entire U.S. vehicle fleet in the next few decades. That is likely to change the cost-benefit calculations for alternate powertrains profoundly. Expect political pressure to intensify, too.